Clarets boss Sean Dyche has warned Burnley’s promotion rivals he expects his side to get stronger in the run in.
Burnley sit second in the Championship table, a point behind leaders Hull City, one ahead of Middlesbrough and two clear of Brighton, after all four sides won their Tuesday night fixtures.
Ahead of tomorrow’s derby at Bolton Wanderers, Dyche anticipates a fight to the end to claim a place in the top two, but the Clarets are battle-hardened after earning a place in the Premier League two years ago as runners-up to Leicester City.
Burnley have used the least players in the division with 23, but the fitness of Dyche’s players is well-renowned, and Dyche expects them to continue to go hard: “I know the physicality of the side and I know how powerful they are.
“We’ve been going strong since I got my own group together. Two years ago, and last year in the Premier League – if you look at the games right at the end, we took seven points out of the last three games, even when we’d been relegated.
“We have a fantastic mindset, fantastic physicality and belief in what we do, we train right all the time and deliver right all the time.
“I have absolute faith in my group being stronger and stronger.”
He added: “The stats are as strong as they have been all season physically.
“I’ve got no reason to overthink it.
“I think we’re a strong side and I think we can deliver a season and that’s exactly what our intention is. That’s the key to it.”
Like last season, the top of the table is congested, and the likes Manchester City, Fulham and Reading dominating the division are a distant memory.
Dyche said: “It’s very rare that the Championship is one where people just run away with it. It does happen but it’s rare. We just focus on what we’re doing.
“Obviously we’re at that time of the year where people start talking about the ins and outs of the league, but our focus is about what we’re doing. That’s all we can focus on really.”
Burnley go to the Macron Stadium unbeaten in 10, having recorded four-successive clean sheets in the league.
But Dyche doesn’t take his side’s miserly nature for granted: “It’ s a big part of the game.
“I thought the defending side of the game was fantastic against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night.
“We kept them down to very little and created a lot of chances ourselves, so it’s a healthy mixture.
“But we can’t rely on that one for the next one.”
James Tarkowski made his full debut at centre back, with Michael Keane ruled out after coming off in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Rotherham, feeling dazed after a head injury sufferedin a collision with Millers keeper Lee Camp.
Dyche was delighted with the £3m man: “Really good. It was an awkward one on Saturday coming one as a sub. I was a centre half myself and it’s not ideal.
“When you start it’s better, you feel a lot more at home with yourself, and I thought he delivered a very good performance alongside Ben Mee, who was against outstanding and has been for a while now amongst a back five who have been very strong.
“Heats (Tom Heaton) didn’t have a lot to do, but when he was called into action he had clean hands, very good technically, and another good performance from him as well.”
Mee has had an impressive season, but since moving inside to centre back – his natural position – his performances have caught the eye: “He’s enjoying his football.
“You can see a group who are enjoying their football – the energy they’re playing with, the belief in what they’re doing, on top of the tactical framework and it’s a good mixture at the moment.
“But we’ve got to earn the right every day to take it into games.”
Keane, who had played every minute in the league this season until Saturday, was not knocked out, but FA protocol means he can’t be considered for six days after the game, and he will continue to be monitored: s boss Sean Dyche explained: “You have a six-day window at least, so we’ll observe that properly with the medical team and take it from there. Six days is the FA guideline, then depending on symptoms. We’ll just see how he is, we’ve had all the necessary checks done, and he’s being monitored.”